This month in brief…

“Because traditional crossbreeding systems are cumbersome, especially in small herds and in intensive rotational grazing systems, more commercial producers in the future will utilize heterosis by rotating unrelated F1 hybrid bulls composed of the same two breeds (A•B × A•B),” writes Harlan Ritchie in his futuristic look at the U.S. beef industry entitled, “What's Ahead for the Beef Industry?” On page 46, Ritchie says the practice could result in a 12% increase in lbs. of calf weaned/cow exposed over the average of the parental breeds, while rotating F1 bulls with only one breed in common (A•B × A•C) can result in a 16% increase.

“Because of the increasing demand for hybrids, more seedstock breeders will respond by offering more hybrid bulls to commercial customers,” Ritchie predicts.

“We'll be looking at a different industry in five to 10 years in many respects. National ID will create a change in our thought process to be accountable for all inputs into an animal, including genetics, health and feed,” Angus breeder Ben Eggers tells Kindra Gordon in her story, “Reflections on 40 Years,” on page 57. Eggers adds there will be a heightened awareness among producers about how things must be done right.

“What is making consumers so darn picky about their beef?” is the question Diana Barto poses in her story, “What Consumers Want,” on page 82. A likely explanation is growth in the foodservice industry, she writes. The volume of beef moving in fast-food and steakhouse channels has increased exponentially over the past 40 years, as has the amount of beef consumed away from home.

“Consumers are having these ‘wow’ experiences at great steakhouses, and they want to have that experience with what they buy at the grocery store,” says Tom DeMott, former vice president of corporate meat merchandising at Safeway.

“Efficiency is not the way to succeed,” writes Troy Marshall in his commentary, “Value-added vs. low cost,” on page 86. Marshall asks: “Can you name one business on Wall Street that has continued to grow, when their focus was on cutting costs?”

Rather, he suggests that, while becoming a low-cost producer is essential to survival, focusing on the value side of the equation is the key to profitability.

A combination of research, technology development and innovation has allowed the U.S. beef industry to double annual beef production from 13.2 billion lbs. to almost 27 billion lbs. using a national cattle herd that's about the same size today as it was in 1955. Those same factors have allowed a reduction, since 1955, in consumer cost per pound of beef by 26%, after adjusting for inflation.

Those are just two of the highlights presented in a “white paper” examining 50 years of beef technology that Clint Peck summarizes in “Technology's Gifts,” which appears on page 108.

Hot Shots

A thousand pardons

A table on packer market share trends was incorrectly sourced on pages 5 and 18 of our June and July issues, respectively. The table, “U.S. Slaughter Sector: Company and Share,” was incorrectly sourced to the National Ag Statistics Service. The correct source is Cattle Buyers Weekly, a subscription newsletter that offers some of the industry's best coverage and commentary on beef industry marketing trends. Learn more about it at: www.cattlebuyersweekly.com.

Fescue book and workshop

Steers grazed across the “fescue belt” — which stretches from northern Missouri to West Virginia to Georgia and back to Texas — can gain from ½ to 1 lb./day less than their counterparts not grazing high-endophyte pastures. When 600-lb. stocker calves top $1.30/lb., such lost performance adds up to a lot of lost revenue.

But with what's known today about fescue toxicosis and its management, no producer should tolerate such losses, says Craig Roberts, University of Missouri (MU) Extension forage specialist. A list of those practices are available in a 16-page guide, entitled “Tall Fescue Toxicosis and Management,” available at: www.plantmanagementnetwork.org/pub/cm/management/2004/toxicosis/.

In addition, MU specialists will host a tall fescue grazing management workshop, Oct. 7-8 at the MU Southwest Research Center in Mount Vernon. For more info, call 417/466-2148, or e-mail Roberts at RobertsCr@missouri.edu.

Biotech Crops Keep Soaring

Of soybean acres planted in 2004, 85% were biotech, compared to just 54% planted in biotech in 2000. Meanwhile, 45% of acreage planted to corn was planted in biotech.

KSU Beef Stocker Field Day

The newly established Kansas State University (KSU) Beef Stocker Unit in Manhattan, (see story on page 92) is the venue for KSU's Beef Stocker Field Day, Sept. 17. The agenda offers practical management info to help stocker operators optimize their programs.

Registration is $30 after Sept. 1. For more info, call Dale Blasi at 785/532-5427. Participants have the option to stay overnight to attend the KSU vs. Louisiana-Lafayette football game. For game tickets, contact the KSU Ticket Office at 785/7606 or 800/221-CATS.

National Angus Conference & Tour

“Continuing The Angus Advance” is the theme, and Roanoke, VA, is home base, for the 2004 National Angus Conference & Tour, Sept. 14-17. Registration begins at noon Sept. 14, is followed by a daylong educational conference in the Hotel Roanoke on Sept. 15, and ends with a two-day tour of top Virginia Angus operations.

For more details, call Linda Campbell at 816/383-5143 or go to www.angus.org.

BEEF staff wins 19 awards

BEEF magazine carried home 19 writing and design awards from the 2004 Agricultural Publications Summit in Tampa, FL, in late July. BEEF dominated its field in the Livestock Publications Council (LPC) critique contest as BEEF staff collected five 1st-place awards — in the special issue, technical article, human-interest story, in-depth reporting and commentary categories; as well as four 2nd-place finishes — in general excellence, technical article, human-interest story and commentary. In addition, BEEF claimed eight honorable mentions.

Meanwhile, in competition among American Agricultural Editors Association (AAEA) membership, BEEF Senior Editor Clint Peck was awarded 2nd place for Internet Breaking News story. BEEF also earned an honorable mention in The Best Use Of Photos category.

New Heartland Cattle Site

Heartland Cattle Co. (HCC), McCook, NE, a pioneer of professional heifer development, has debuted its inaugural Web site. Located at www.heartlandcattle.com, HCC's proprietary style of heifer development, heifer management, marketing philosophies and staff profiles are detailed. The site content also describes Heartland's commercial feeding operations, feeding practices and contractual research programs. Contact information is included as well.

BSE found in post-feed ban cattle

BSE has been detected in two English cows born years after protective safeguards were put in place, United Kingdom (UK) authorities announced in early August. The cases raise questions about whether the safeguards, which ban the inclusion of infectious animal parts in cattle feed, were strictly followed. The USDA has relied on similar safeguards to protect U.S. herds and consumers.

One of the infected cows was born in Devon in December 1999, 40 months after the feed ban was enacted to prevent spread of BSE, UK officials say. The other case was born in Shropshire in February 1998, 19 months after the ban took effect.

My Top 10 Clicks

Jeff Windett

Commercial Marketing Manager Circle A Angus Ranch Iberia, MO

  1. www.beef.org — Web site for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
  2. www.cattle-fax.com — Web site for Cattle-Fax.
  3. www.mocattle.org — Web site for the Missouri Cattlemen's Association.
  4. www.ams.usda.gov/lsmnpubs/live.htm — Livestock and grain market news.
  5. www.angus.org — Web site for American Angus Association.
  6. www.thestreet.com — Web site for business and investing trends.
  7. www.chicagotribune.com — Web site for the Chicago Tribune.
  8. www.mutigers.com — Web site for the University of Missouri.
  9. www.foxnews.com — Web site for Fox News.
  10. www.espn.com — Web site for ESPN.